✹ Get Free Shipping on Orders $75+ ✹ Shop Now →
Nothing conjures increased awareness of our chemical environments quite like pregnancy. Being solely responsible for the health and wellbeing of a new human is excellent fodder for deep dives into our lifestyles, from top to bottom. From the foods we eat and the things we drink to the products we put on our bodies - taking stock of our invisible chemical lifestyles (so to speak) often becomes a top priority for many hopeful parents-to-be.
In this post, we’re doing a little deep dive ourselves, in which we seek to both uncover some truths and squash some myths about one such chemical: phthalates.
What are phthalates?
Pronounced “tha-layte,”phthalates are sometimes referred to as “the everywhere chemical, due to their omnipresence in the products we purchase and keep around our homes. If you’ve ever scanned any of the beauty and/or body care product containers in and around your bathroom, for example, there’s a good chance your eyes have landed on the word, perhaps causing you to pause and wonder what that actually means. What in the world are phthalates?
“Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more durable. They are often called plasticizers. Some phthalates are used to help dissolve other materials. Phthalates are in hundreds of products, such as vinyl flooring, lubricating oils, and personal-care products (soaps, shampoos, hair sprays). - Centers for Disease Control.”
These man-made chemical compounds known as phthalates were developed over the last several decades for use in the manufacturing of plastics, body and personal care products, and solvents.They have no color and no odor, and maintain an oily, viscous consistency that won’t evaporate (at least not easily). Also, phthalates don’t chemically bind to whatever materials they’re added to.
How are people exposed to phthalates?
Due to their widespread use in so many common goods and products, people are exposed to phthalates in a number of ways. Inhalation, ingestion, and skin absorption are all common potential pathways of exposure. The use of phthalates in products made with PVC (polyvinyl chloride) to boost flexibility, as well as in personal care products to make fragrances last longer, has resulted in widespread general population exposure over the last half-decade.
“Phthalates are readily absorbed into the human body and are converted quickly to their respective metabolites. Unlike some chemicals, they tend to pass out of the body quickly in urine and feces. Phthalates can interact with each other and increase the exposure effect.” - www.niehs.nih.gov.
What do phthalates do to the body?
The short answer is that this is still being researched and assessed; very few studies have been conducted or have provided concrete data from which to glean a true and full answer to this question. It remains a little uncertain as to what phthalates' exact impact is/are on the human body. That said, clinical research has shown that phthalates have adversely affected animals, both developmentally and reproductively. These studies shed some possible light into the impact that these chemicals may have on our own bodies, and are worth heeding when it comes to choosing the products we keep in our homes.
Phthlates and their effects on animals in clinical studies include:An early onset of puberty.
Interference with male reproductive tract development.
Interference with the hormone system’s natural functioning.
Reproductive and genital defects.
Reduced testosterone levels in adolescent males.
Reduced sperm count in adult males.
Are phthalates harmful to fertility or pregnancy?
If you find yourself wondering if phthalates are safe for fertility and pregnancy, you’re in good company. This is a frequently asked question, to be sure, as it relates directly to the health and wellbeing of both the mother and child. It stands to reason that simple education and increased awareness about the chemical environments in which one lives during her fertility and pregnancy journey, can go a long way toward creating the safest situation possible, for everyone involved.
“Phthalates are weak endocrine disruptors and androgen blocking chemicals. This means that when absorbed into the body, they can either mimic or block female hormones, or in males, suppress the hormones involved in male sexual development.” - National Institutes of Health
It is true that there has not been much research into the potential risks and impacts involved with human phthalate exposure, especially as it relates to fertility and pregnancy. But from where we’re sitting, stripping questionable chemicals from our lives is never not a solid idea. We certainly won’t be doing any harm by choosing not to include them, you know?
So when in doubt, we always advise to just go without.
How to avoid phthalates
The best way to try to avoid something called “the everywhere chemical,” is to remain diligent and aware of both your surroundings and the various products you’re consuming on a day-to-day basis. Read labels, ask questions, and seek the information that you need to be as safe as possible, in the ways that work best for you and your routines. Here are a few simple things you can do to avoid exposure to phthalates:
Opt for plastic or vinyl products labeled “phthalate-free.” This goes for everything from your toothbrush and your contact lens case to your plastic dishware and shampoo bottles. If unsure, you can always contact the manufacturer.
In the kitchen, if and when possible, try to use only containers that are labeled, “microwave safe” and phthalate-free when microwaving food and/or drinks. Same goes for plastic wrap, since phthalates can leach into foods either immediately on contact or when heat is applied.
Read labels! The process of becoming a more well-informed consumer, when it comes to the vast sea of chemicals that are out there, can be an understandably intimidating task. It’s no small endeavor, but we always say the best place to start is right in your own bathroom. Before calling any manufacturer, and before you toss out all of your personal care products - take stock of what you have on hand, and why. Read the labels and get to know the ingredients that you’re inviting into your home and your body each day. Knowledge is always power, and we’d all be well advised to work to be better informed consumers.
umanos products are phthalate free, always.
At umanos, we wear our hearts on our sleeves (and by sleeves, we mean labels). We walk the walk that we talk from the first to the last ingredients that we list on our bottles, all the way to the actual bottles themselves. Our goal is to make your shopping experience easy and stress free - you get an ample dose of peace of mind when you choose products made with the utmost care, intention, and attention to all of the details that matter. This means there are no phthalates in any of our products, and there never will be. Like, ever.
You might also want to check out:
Resources:The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences